Last Updated on 1 March 2017

Mocha Valencia Frappuccino, was the one of the new beverages in the summer of 2002 at Starbucks Coffee. I was the marketing manager in charge of the summer promotion.

The beverage team described the taste profile like eating pieces of “chocolate orange” – like that made by Terry’s. (Which is interesting – because Terry’s Chocolate Orange wasn’t / isn’t a universal flavor the way Oreo Cookie or Orange Creamsicle are).

Anyhow, it became a featured beverage.

I don’t know about you… but orange + chocolate isn’t one of my favorite flavors.

I don’t know about you… but I would never order that flavor… I wouldn’t even try it because it was new and different – it is not a taste that sounds appealing to me.

However, sales of Mocha Valencia Frappuccino did fairly well that summer.


Because partners (employees) in stores sampled it morning, noon, and night. That summer, you couldn’t walk into a Starbucks without a tray of mini-Frappuccino samples being thrust at you.

Long story short – trial led to purchase. Through trial you drive sales.

Allowing me to try your product or service prior to purchase reduces the anxiety I have about buying your product. The risk is gone. I’m not going to fork-out $50 for your software to find out it doesn’t do what I want. I’m not going to buy that phone without first trying out the buttons.

Which leads to this great direct mail ad.

Neat Idea No. 1

How does a phone company get you to try their product before purchase? They get you to try it at the retail store. But how do they get you if you’re not visiting the store?

Below is a way to creatively solve the problem of “how do we get trial of our expensive device.”

[click for larger view]

The purple area is actually cut out… The idea is to put your thumbs through the holes and “try” the BlackBerry…

BlackBerry Thumb Trial

I’m not sure if this ad for this “groundbreaking new phone” drove sales and exceeded expectations. But it was a clever way to engage the customer. I wouldn’t be surprised to find out the mail carrier tried it – just for fun – before he delivered it.

Neat Idea No. 2

How do you get people to try grape juice? You could sample in-aisle at the grocery store. Or, maybe have a booth at the mall. But how do you get them in their home? Short of shipping small bottles to customers?

Welch's Taste

Welch’s used a flavor strip in print ads. Peel up the tab and lick to taste. (I wouldn’t recommend this if you found the ad at the doctor or dentist office).

I used to drink grape juice all the time as a kid. I can’t recall ever buying it myself. Perhaps the taste is enough trigger the memory of that flavor as a kid and prompting the addition of “grape juice” to this week’s grocery shopping list?

What are ways you can get your customers to – taste, smell, feel, see, touch, hear – experience your product?

*I’m pretty sure it was 2002 that the Mocha Valencia drink launched, it could have been ’01 or ’03…